Overborrowing and undersaving: lessons and policy implications from research in behavioral economics
The U.S. household carries over $7,500 in uncollateralized debt and likely saves at a negative rate. There is a growing body of evidence that this borrowing and saving behavior may not, as assumed by standard economics, be the product of rational financial planning. This paper discusses insights from behavioral economics on how self-control problems could play a crucial role in determining such financial outcomes. It is important to note that self-control problems, as defined in this paper, are thought of as an issue affecting all people, not just those involved in our specific research. ; The paper reports results from a field study targeted to low-to-moderate income individuals conducted in Dorchester, MA. It links measured self-control to borrowing and savings outcomes taken from individual credit reports and survey questions respectively. We find that self-control problems are associated with higher borrowing, specifically on credit cards, and lower savings of income tax refunds. The paper discusses how policy prescriptions built around addressing self-control issues could prove helpful in improving financial outcomes.
|Date of creation:||2007|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 600 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02210|
Web page: http://www.bos.frb.org/
More information through EDIRC
|Order Information:|| Email: |
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Stephan Meier & Charles Sprenger, 2007. "Impatience and credit behavior: evidence from a field experiment," Working Papers 07-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
- Melvin Stephens Jr., 2002.
"'3rd of tha Month': Do Social Security Recipients Smooth Consumption Between Checks?,"
NBER Working Papers
9135, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Melvin Stephens Jr., 2003. ""3rd of tha Month": Do Social Security Recipients Smooth Consumption Between Checks?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 406-422, March.
- John Karl Scholz & Ananth Seshadri & Surachai Khitatrakun, 2004.
"Are Americans Saving "Optimally" for Retirement?,"
NBER Working Papers
10260, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Oren Bar-Gill, "undated". "Seduction by Plastic," American Law & Economics Association Annual Meetings 1013, American Law & Economics Association.
- David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000.
"A Debt Puzzle,"
Documentos de Trabajo
80, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
- John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy & Tom Tyler, 2004. "Measuring Self-Control," NBER Working Papers 10514, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Nicholas S. Souleles, 1999. "The Response of Household Consumption to Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 947-958, September.
- O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 1997.
"Doing It Now or Later,"
Department of Economics, Working Paper Series
qt7t44m5b0, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin ., 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Economics Working Papers 97-253, University of California at Berkeley.
- Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Doing It Now or Later," Discussion Papers 1172, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence From a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 635-672.
- Esther Duflo & William Gale & Jeffrey Liebman & Peter Orszag & Emmanuel Saez, 2005.
"Saving incentives for low- and middle-income families: Evidence from a field experiment with h&r block,"
Framed Field Experiments
00234, The Field Experiments Website.
- Esther Duflo & William Gale & Jeffrey Liebman & Peter Orszag & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "Saving Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence from a Field Experiment with H&R Block," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1311-1346.
- Esther Duflo & William Gale & Jeffrey Liebman & Peter Orszag & Emmanuel Saez, 2005. "Saving Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence from a Field Experiment with H&R Block," NBER Working Papers 11680, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Duflo, Esther & Gale, William & Liebman, Jeff & Orszag, Peter & Saez, Emmanuel, 2005. "Saving Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence from a Field Experiment with H&R Block," CEPR Discussion Papers 5332, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- William G. Gale & John Sabelhaus, 1999. "Perspectives on the Household Saving Rate," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 30(1), pages 181-224.
- Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003.
"Is there a Daily Discount Rate? Evidence from the Food Stamp Nutrition Cycle,"
0304005, EconWPA, revised 21 Apr 2003.
- Shapiro, Jesse M., 2005. "Is there a daily discount rate? Evidence from the food stamp nutrition cycle," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 303-325, February.
- Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
- David Laibson, 1997.
"Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
- Christopher D. Carroll & Lawrence H. Summers, 1991.
"Consumption Growth Parallels Income Growth: Some New Evidence,"
in: National Saving and Economic Performance, pages 305-348
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Chris Carroll & Lawrence H. Summers, 1989. "Consumption Growth Parallels Income Growth: Some New Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2006. "Paying Not to Go to the Gym," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 694-719, June.
- Huffman, David B. & Barenstein, Matias, 2004. "Riches to Rags Every Month? The Fall in Consumption Expenditures Between Paydays," IZA Discussion Papers 1430, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Kathleen W. Johnson, 2004. "Convenience or necessity? understanding the recent rise in credit card debt," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-47, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2002. "Do Liquidity Constraints and Interest Rates Matter for Consumer Behavior? Evidence from Credit Card Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 149-185.
- James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2003. "Optimal Defaults," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 180-185, May.
- Bertrand, Marianne & Shafir, Eldar & Mullainathan, Sendhil, 2004.
"A Behavioral Economics View of Poverty,"
2907437, Harvard University Department of Economics.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedbpc:2007-4. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Catherine Spozio)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.